Your customers have to be a the center of every marketing plan

by Ron on October 21, 2013

Shopkeeper holding a service bellIf you’re like most marketers today, you probably understand at some level the impact of digital transformation on your jobs, but whether it’s internal politics, technology or  just intransigence on your part; you’re probably not embracing the idea completely –and that has to change.

I probably don’t have to tell you, but your customers probably aren’t sitting in front of the TV anymore watching your carefully crafted and likely very expensive commercials. They’re probably not reading that magazine either, and as for the newspaper, that’s a distant dream. The nature of interaction has changed.

You are no longer pushing your message to a naive consumer. The whole relationship has shifted and the customer wants to be at the center of that discussion. That’s because according to Razorfish chief technology officer, Ray Velez who spoke at the Digital Pulse Summit in Boston last week, consumers now have voice, control and choice –and they don’t have to listen to you anymore.

Velez said this change has challenged the way you think about marketing, advertising and business because today’s consumers are not going to sit and wait through your commercials, so you have to drive the relationship.

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping says that using old-fashioned marketing tools like discounts and coupons are not the way to engage your customers. He says it requires amazing tools and content. He used the example of the Domino’s Pizza tracker and how it transformed the rather mundane task of ordering pizza into an interactive customer experience where you can track your pizza from order to delivery in real time online.

Domino’s personalizes the experience even further by letting the pizza buyer know who’s making their pizza and who’s delivering it. And they’ve found based on social media interactions that people are really connecting with this idea. It started as a web tool, but now you can order and track pizza on your mobile device too. Davis says it’s been so successful, some people are reporting they order a pizza just to use the tool and that’s the kind of reaction you want from your customers.

You have probably heard to the point of it becoming cliche that you have to delight your customers, but like all cliches there is really an element of truth to that.

That means you have to completely rethink your relationship with the customer and put the customer at the center of the experience. As Velez said, what you don’t want to do is think of the customer as just an entry in the customer relationship management system (CRM).

When you put the customer first as Domino’s did in the example, good things happen and people respond in positive ways. They feel good about your brand and they share those feelings in their online social media tools. If you can transform your customer into a spokesperson for your brand, you’re reaching that person’s entire network without spending a dime. The power is concrete.

But conversely if you upset them or give them a less enjoyable customer experience, they’ll broadcast that too.

The rules are changing and social media is at the center of all that. You need to begin to adapt the way you interact with customers and even do business if you want your mid-size business to survive and thrive in this changing world.

(c) Can Stock Photo

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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